« НазадПродовжити »
The women made no answer but by their tears and entreaties. Some embraced her knees ; others beseeched Volumpia to join her prayers to theirs; all conjured Veturia not to refuse her country this last assistance. Overcome at length by their urgent solicitations, she promised to do as they desired.
The very next day, all the most illustrious of the Roman women repaired to Veturia's house.
There they presently mounted a number of chariots, which the consuls had ordered to be made ready for them ; and, without any guard, took the way to the enemy's camp.
Coriolanus, perceiving from afar that long train of chariots, sent out some horsemen to learn the design of it. They quickly brought him word, that it was bis mother, his wife, and a great number of other women, and their children, coming
to the camp. He doubtless conjectured what views the Romans had in so extraordinary a deputation ; that this was the last expedient of the senate ; and, in his own mind, he determined not to let himself be moved. But he reckoned
upon a savage inflexibility that was not in his nature; for going out with a few attendants to receive the women, he
sooner beheld Veturia attired in mourning, her eyes bathed in tears, and with a countenance and motion that spoke her sinking under a load of sorrow, than he ran hastily to her; and not only calling her mother, but adding to that word the most tender epithets, embraced her, wept over her, and held her in his arms to prevent her falling, The like tenderness he presently after expressed to his wife, highly commending her discretion in having constantly remained with his mother, since his departure from Rome. And then, with the warmest paternal affection, he caressed his children.
When some time had been allowed to those silent tears of joy, which often flow plenteously at the sudden and unexpected meeting of persons dear to each other, Veturia entered upon the business she had undertaken. forcible appeals to his understanding and patriotism, she exclaimed : " What frenzy, what madness of anger transports my son! Heaven is appeased by supplications, vows, and sacrifices : shall mortals be implacable? Will Marcius set no bounds to his resentment? But allowing that thy enmity to thy country is too violent to let thee listen to her petition for peace ; yet be not deaf, my son, be not inexorable to the prayers and tears of thy mother. Thou dreadest the
very appearance of ingratitude towards the Volsci ; and shall thy mother have reason to acouse thee of being ungrateful ? Call to mind the tender care I took of thy infancy and earliest youth ; the alarms, the anxiety, I suffered on thyaccount, when, entered into the state of manhood, thy life was almost daily exposed in foreign wars; the apprehensions, the terrors, I underwent, when I saw thee so warmly engaged in our domestic quarrels, and, with heroic courage, opposing the unjust pretensions of the furious plebeians. My sad forebodings of the event have been but too well verified. Consider the wretched life I have endured, if it may be called life, the time that has passed since I was deprived of thee. O Marcius, refuse me not the only request I ever made to thee; I will never importune thee with any other. Cease thy immoderate anger ; 'be reconciled to thy country; this is all I ask : grant me but this, and we shall both be happy. Freed from those tempestuous passions which now agitate thy soul, and from all the torments of self-reproach, thy days will flow smoothly on in the sweet serenity of conscious virtue: and as for me, if it carry back to Rome the hopes of an approaching peace, an assurance of thy being reconciled to thy country, with whát transports of joy shall I be received ! In what honour, in what delightful repose, shall I pass the remainder of my life! What immortal glory shall I have acquired!".
Coriolanus made no attempt to interrupt Veturia while she was speaking ; and when she bad ceased, he still confinued in deep silence. Anger, hatred, and desire of revenge, balanced in his heart those softer passions, which the sight and discourse of his mother had awakened in his breast. Veturia perceiving his irresolution, and fearing the event, thus renewed her expostulation : “Why dost thou not a swer me, my son ? Is there then such greatness of mind i giving all to resentment? Art thou ashamed to grant any thing to a mother who thus entreats thee, thus humbles herself to thee? If it be so, to what purpose should I longer enilure a wretched life ?” As she uttered these last words, interrupted by sighs, she threw herself prostrate 'at his feet. His wife and children did the same; and all the other women, with united voices of mournful accent, begged and implored his pity.
The Volscian officers, not able unmoved to behold thin scene, turned away their eyes : but Coriolanus, almost beside himself to see Vetoria at his feet, passionately crie: 22:
« Ah! mother, what art thou doing ?” And, tenderly pressing her hand, in raising her up, he added, in a low voice, “ Rome is saved, but thy son is lost!” Early the next morning, Coriolanus broke
camp, and peaceably marched bis army homewards. Nobody had the boldness to contradict his orders. Many were exceedingly dissatisfied with his conduct ; but others excused it, being more affected with his filial respect to his mother, than with their own interests. HOOKE'S ROMAN HISTORY.
Execution of Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury.
Queen Mary determined to bring Cranmer, whom she had long detained in prison, to punishment; and in order more fuliy to satiate her vengeance, she resolved to punish him for heresy, rather than for treason. He was cited by the Pope to stand his trial at Rome ; and though he was known to be kept in close custody at Oxford, he was, upon his not appearing, condemned as contumacious. Bonner, bishop of London, and Thirleby, bishop of Ely, were sent to degrade
and the former executed the melancholy ceremony, with all the joy and exultation which suited his savage nature. Tlie implacable spirit of the Queen, not satisfied with the future misery of Cranmer, which she believed inevitable, and with the execution of that dreadful sentence to which he was condemned, prompted her also to seek the ruin of his honour, and the infamy of his name. Persons were employed to attack him, not in the way of disputation, against which he was sufficiently armed; but by flattery, insinuation, and address ; by representing the dignities to which his character still entitled him, if he would merit them by a recantation ; by giving him hopes of long enjoying those powerful friends, whom bis beneficent disposition had attache ed to him, during the course of his prosperity. Overcome by the fond love of life ; terrified by the prospect of those tortures which awaited him ; he allowed, in an unguarded hour, the sentiments of nature to prevail over his resolution, aut agreed to subscribe the doctrines of the papal supremac, and of the real presence. The court, equally perfidiove and cruel, was determined that this recantatima
should avail him nothing ; and sent orders that he should be required to acknowledge his errors in church before the whole people : and that he should thence be immediately carried to execution.
Cranmer, whether he had received a secret intimation of their design, or had repented of his weakness, surprised the audience by a contrary declaration. He said that he was well apprised of the obedience which he owed to his sovereign and the laws; but that this duty extended no farther than to submit patiently to their commands ; and to bear, without resistance, whatever hardships they should impose upon him : that a superior duty, the duty which he owed to his Maker, obliged him to speak truth on all occasions ; and not to relinquish, by a base denial, the boly doctrine which the Supreme Being had revealed to mankind : that there was one miscarriage in his life, of which above all others, he severely repented; the insincere declaration of faith to which he had the weakness to consent, and which the fear of death alone had extorted from him : that he took this opportunity of atoning for his error by a sincere and open recantation; and was willing to seal with his blood,
that doctrine which he firmly believed to be communicated from heaven: and that, as his hand bad erred, by betraying his heart, it should first be punished, by a severe, but just doom, and should first pay the forfeit of its offences.
He was then led to the stake, amidst the insults of his enemies: and having now summoned up all the force of his mind, he bore their scorn, as well as the torture of his punishment, with singular fortitude. He stretched out his hand, and, without betraying, either by his countenance, or motions, the least sign of weakness, or even of feeling, he held it in the flames till it was entirely consumed. His thoughts seemed wholly occupied with reflections on his former fault, and he called aloud several times, “ This hand bas offended." Satisfied with that atonement, he then discovered a serenity in his countenance; and when the fire attacked bis body, he seemed to be quite insensible of his outward sufferings, and by the force of hope and resolution, to have colJected his mind altogether within itself, and to repel the fury of the flames. He was undoubtedly a man of merit; possessed of learning and capacity, and adorned with candour, sincerity, and beneficence, and all those virtues which were fitted to render him useful and amiable in society.
Christianity furnishes the best consolation under the evils of life.
It is of great importance to contemplate the Christian religion in the light of consolation ; as bringing aid and relief to us amidst the distresses of life. Here our religion incontestibly triumphs; and its happy effects, in this respect, furnish a strong argument to every benevolent mind, for wishing them to be farther diffused throughout the world. For without the belief and hope afforded by Divine Revelation, the circumstances of man are extremely forlorn. He finds himself placed here as a stranger in a vast upi. verse, where the powers and operations of nature are very imperfectly known ; where both the beginnings and the is. sues of things are involved in mysterious darkness ; where he is unable to discover, with any certainty, whence he sprung, or for what purpose he was brought into this state of existence; whether he is subjected to the government of a mild, or of a wrathsul ruler; what construction he is to put on many of the dispensations of his providence; and what his fate is to be when he departs hence. What a disconsolate situation, to a serious, inquiring mind! The greater degree of virtue it possesses, the more its sensibility is likely to be oppressed by this burden of labouring thought. Even though it were in one's power to banish all uneasy thought, and to fill up the hours of life with perpetual amusement, life so filled up would, upon reflection, appear poor and trivial. But these are far from being the terms upon which man is brought into this world. He is conscious that his being is frail and feeble ; he sees himself beset with various dangers ; and is exposed to many a melancholy apprehension, from the evils which he may have to encounter, before he arrives at the close of life. In this distressed condition, to reveal to him such discoveries of the Supreme Being as the Christian religion affords, is to reveal to him a father and a friend; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light upon the darkness of the human state. He who was before a destitute orphan, wandering in the inhospitable desert, has 'now gained a shelter from the bitter and inclement blast. He now knows to whom to pray, and in whom to trust; where to unbosom his sorrows; and from what hand to look for relief.